Gizzi on Politics

Any Takers Against Jindal?

That’s what Louisiana Democrats were probably wondering last week, as their two heavyweight contenders for governor this year opted against the race against presumed Republican candidate Rep. Bobby Jindal.

Former Sen. (1986-2004) John Breaux said he would not run and cited doubts about his legal eligibility to be a candidate in the Pelican State. Critics of the former lawmaker and current Washington, D.C., lobbyist said that Breaux did not meet the state constitution’s citizenship requirement because he has a Maryland driver’s license, a Maryland homestead exemption, and a “nonresident” Louisiana hunting license. After State Atty. Gen. Charles Foti refused to get involved and said that eligibility was up to the courts, Breaux announced that questions about his status as a Louisiana citizen severely limited his ability to run and that he was opting out of the race.

Breaux’s “no-go” came on the heels of a similar declaration by Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, brother of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. The two Democrats still mentioned as possible candidates to succeed retiring Gov. Kathleen Blanco are State Senators Foster Campbell and Walter Boasso.

Four years after he lost a heart-breakingly close race to Democrat Blanco, stalwart conservative Jindal (lifetime ACU rating: 96%) stands an excellent chance of winning the governorship without a run-off in the “jungle primary” October 20. (Under the state’s unique election law, all candidates regardless of party compete on the same ballot and, unless someone wins a majority, a run-off between the top two is held in November. )

‘DeWine Right’ of Succession

Following the almost-unanimous re-election of Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett last week, the 66-member state party committee followed through on Bennett’s plan for his succession in ’08. The nation’s longest-serving GOP state chairman, who first won the party helm in 1988 and has signaled he will retire in ’08, proposed creation of the new position of deputy chairman. The state committee agreed and elected State Rep. Kevin DeWine to the post over two opponents.
A distant cousin of former Sen. (1994-2006) Mike DeWine, the 40-year-old Beaver Creek legislator won high marks from conservatives for leading the successful charge to defeat statewide “reform” initiatives that would have severely limited funding of campaigns in the Buckeye State.

From Lady Marine to Big Mama

One of my favorite sources of news on Capitol Hill in the 1990s was KayAnne Riley, an assistant to Republican Representatives John Shadegg (Ariz.) and Joe Knollenberg (Mich.). Always outspoken and seemingly never out of hot tips or gossip, vivacious former U.S. Marine Sgt. Riley was a hit at events such as the annual Human Events reception for members of Congress and their staff with her provocative views. “Women in combat? Forget it!” she told us while holding forth at the 1997 reception. “I could barely get through basic training with a pack on my back. I can’t imagine many other gals doing that.” On another occasion, upon spotting a colleague and me, onetime Armed Forces Radio broadcaster Riley dashed from her spot at an outdoor café, caught up with us, and proceeded to buttonhole us to oppose a proposal to make the Iwo Jima Memorial honor men in uniform other than the Marines who took the island during World War II. (That change in the memorial was never made.)

Now in banking, back in her hometown of Prescott, Ariz., Sgt. Riley e-mailed me last week about a new step in her career. Beginning later this month, the self-styled “lady Marine” will star in the Prescott Fine Arts Association presentation of the musical Chicago. Her role, predictably, is that of the wise-cracking Big Mama Morton.


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